The Nationals have activated outfielder Juan Soto and right-handed reliever Will Harris from the injured list, per Mark Zuckerman of MASNSports.com. In corresponding moves, the Nationals designated infielder/outfielder Hernan Perez for assignment and optioned righty Kyle McGowin to Triple-A.
The Nationals held an ugly 5-9 record when Soto went on the IL on April 20 with a strained left shoulder. To their credit, though, the Nats did more than stay afloat during their superstar hitter’s absence. After going 7-3 while Soto was on the shelf, Washington sits at 12-12 – good for a half-game lead in the National League East. They’ll have to continue playing without Soto at full strength for a little while longer, as manager Dave Martinez said the 22-year-old still isn’t ready to throw in games (via Zuckerman). For now, he’ll serve as a pinch-hitter. That should continue leaving right field to Yadiel Hernandez, who has come up large with a .362/.444/.500 line in 36 plate appearances.
Harris, 36, has yet to debut this year as a result of right hand inflammation. There was a fear Harris would require thoracic outlet surgery, but he avoided that procedure and will now rejoin the Nationals’ bullpen a month into the season. The club signed Harris to a three-year, $24MM contract entering last season after a strong run with the Astros. Harris did throw 17 2/3 innings of 3.06 ERA ball with a 25 percent strikeout rate in 2020, though his fielding-independent numbers (4.09 xFIP, 4.13 SIERA, 4.55 FIP) were less impressive. He also experienced an increase in walks and home runs allowed, while his groundball percentage tumbled by over 12 percent from the previous season.
The 30-year-old Perez signed a minor league contract with the Nationals over the winter and then made their Opening Day roster. Perez couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, though, as he collected one hit (a single) in 21 plate appearances and struck out 10 times, leading the Nats to boot him from their 40-man roster.